Barb DiGi opens with a joke then discusses the Wisconsin State Journal article about the city council not giving in the request immediately by a hearing mother of a deaf child about having the sign "Deaf Child Area" erected in the street. How effective are these signs really? Update to comments: Thanks J Womick for the link! Glad you enjoyed the joke everybody! Although I have two deaf children, I don't fight for having this such sign on my street since having stop signs are much more effective.
"DEAF CHILD SIGN CREATES TEMPEST"
April 18, 2007
SUN PRAIRIE - When Cary Murphy asked the city of Sun Prairie a couple of weeks ago to put up a traffic sign for her deaf daughter, she had no idea it would set off such a controversy. But that's what happened when city officials said they wanted to consider her request rather than simply put up a sign. The resulting tempest has put both Murphy and Mayor Joe Chase in the spotlight in a way neither anticipated.
"I don't have a clue about any of this stuff," Murphy said. "I'm a 24-year-old kid with three kids."
Murphy is the mother of Natiya Ballard, who turns 1 today. She's also the mother of Malakai Murphy, 4, and 1-month-old Dezirae Murphy. Cary Murphy, who is looking for a job, was born in Portage but has lived in Sun Prairie on and off since 1991 and considers the city her hometown.
Natiya was born deaf, Murphy said. In all other respects, she said, Natiya is a "typical 1 year old" who has been walking for about a month and a half, though she's "not real sturdy" yet.
When Murphy asked the city to put up a "deaf child' sign near her house at 301 Sweet Grass Drive, officials hesitated because they wanted to review their procedures in such a case and because they knew traffic experts believe such signs aren't always effective.
Chase said he would have ordered a sign if he thought the situation was urgent.
"I didn't take any immediate action on it because it was not an emergency," he said. "In the event of an emergency, I would have made a decision right away."
Instead, Chase decided to let city staff and the City Council take a look at the question.
And that's where area media came in. Murphy's story has appeared on local TV news broadcasts and it has been fodder for radio talk shows. Casey Hoff, who has talked about Murphy's quandary on his show on WTDY-AM (1670), plans to broadcast from Murphy's front yard this morning.
The resulting spotlight has flummoxed both Murphy and Chase.
"I really just wish they would just put up this stupid sign and let it go away," Murphy said.
"It's an emotional issue, and if we offer rational information to the public, they consider us to be irrational by not taking an immediate stance on this," Chase said.
Part of what's making Chase pause is what traffic experts say. Such signs cause drivers to slow down in the short term, said Matt Rauch, a signing engineer with the state Department of Transportation. But "over time, motorists will tend to ignore the sign and, as a result, the sign will lose its effectiveness," he said.
The worry is that such signs "would send a false sense of security to parents and the children that motorists are going to watch out for them when there's a likelihood they won't watch out for them," Rauch said.
The solution, he said, could be for police to enforce speed limits or to increase visibility by removing obstructions, such as vegetation or parked vehicles.
The Sun Prairie Police Department began measuring the speed of traffic on Sweet Grass Drive on Monday morning. The results won't be available until after the study is finished Friday, said Rem Brandt, a police spokesman.
Meanwhile, the City Council is looking into the matter. The council's Public Works Committee held a hearing on April 11, where about 20 people - including Murphy - spoke, both for and against the city's stance.
"I choked because I didn't know what to say," Murphy said.
The council will consider the question next, though it has yet to be scheduled. Chase said he expects that will happen soon.
"What's rational, what would be prudent in this particular case is if we set up a policy where we make sure it's a good policy in the future," Chase said.